Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

I'm not usually an embracer of New Year.  Don't get me wrong, I don't hide away with a multipack of cheese n onion, but I've never got excited about it.

I've certainly had some fun times. The year of the garlic with K and Sister was good, but by god Blackpool is cold at New Year! There were a few good Blackpool New Years, although the one I was told I looked like Monica Lewinsky could have been better - a thought that C no doubt echoes seeing she was told she looked like Cilla Black! I'm sure she was the only red head that sprang to mind. And the millennium was good. Despite my disaster haircut, the one that someone said made me look like Viv Windsor from Emmerdale, the photos of C dancing on the bar are some of my favourites!

And of course there were some rubbish nights, where the over inflated promise of New Year deflated like an old party balloon. But I always gave it a go, some years picking up some good memories, some years picking up sore feet and an empty purse. All part of life's rich tapestry.

One of my favourite single gal New Year activities was when me and L would go off for some bracing Albert Dock air, armed with empty note books and while away the first part of New Year's Day drinking lattes and juice and setting some goals for the next 12 months. I can't remember if we ever achieved them, but the act of committing them to paper was motivating.

I think that being in education, I think of September as the start of a new year, and as good a time as any for making plans.  I know I'm in the minority, but I struggle to get the whole 'new' thing just because the calendar has run out of pages. Maybe if New Year was always on a Sunday, I'd be more comfortable with a Monday fresh start!

But I understand that it's a good time to take stock, review, recognise where change would be good. It's a state of mind. And there is something symbolic about seeing the final day of a year that hasn't been the kindest.

So, having had a pretty rough year and a half including a miscarriage, forced change of job and job loss, I'm going to wave a firm goodbye to 2013 and welcome in 2014.  My blessings are well and truly counted; a wonderful family, good friends, our health (with the exception of my ever crunching knees) and a warm home. It would be greedy to ask for more. But there is the opportunity to make a request, I'd like to be writing this time next year saying 'I'll miss you 2014, you were fab!'.

Happy New Year, friends. May it be what you want it to be.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas Past and Christmas Present

I bought sparkly shoe decorations for the tree. Daughter and I chose them. Husband said there was nothing Christmassy about shoes, and I said quite the opposite.  I said I always used to buy new shoes for Christmas. And a new bag. And a new dress. And...
 
Because Christmas used to be completely different. It used to be all about me! For me at least. It was about the nights out and the clothes, and new stuff and fun.
 
And now it's all about daughter.  And of course it should be, because she's small and full of wonder and delightful to buy dresses and shoes and hair things for, and of course give Santa a helping hand. I wouldn't trade all the fun we had in the old days for a single second of watching her beautiful face shine with delight when she sees her pile of presents.  None of it. Not the carefree single days, not the early days of romance, not a thing. We get more excited than her. At five and a half, she's still never woken before us on Christmas morning. We have to tell her he's been! And it's all wonderful, because she is wonderful, and there's no time like Christmas to count your blessings.
 
But it is a far cry from Christmas past. I don't mean as a child, because they were wonderful. The slide in the living room year was a particular favourite, and I think very fondly of the year I got a plastic hob and pans, obviously where my culinary prowess stems from! Like everyone, I grew up and Christmas became all about the socialising, and buying clothes for the socialising. I don't know how I afforded it. The first outfit was for my early December birthday. Then Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Christmas Day night, Boxing night, New Year's Eve and finally New Year’s night.  And there could be no repetition, not in that short time frame. I was talking about it with my friends at the weekend and we all remembered just how much more Christmassy it seemed. The local on Christmas Eve, where we knew everyone and everyone knew us. Some years on to a club, some years back to a house party. It's probably the old rose tinted specs, but I can't remember a bad Christmas Eve. I still really like Christmas Eve, even though it all seems like a rush and it generates its own to do list. Last year the iron blew up and I had to brave a well-known catalogue style retailer so Husband could go out looking respectable.  There's usually a family meal, and then later on the getting ready for Santa ritual; the sprinkling of the glittery reindeer food, the carrot, the mince pie and Husbands convincing argument that Santa likes Jack Daniels.
 
Then comes the big day itself.  What's not to get excited about? I used to enjoy getting ready while Christmas Top of the Pops was on, and then Father, Sister and I would head off for a festive drink while Mother got on with the serious business of the dinner. We always went to the same pub and used to bet whether it would be a jumper or a tie year for the men. Now, me and husband are awake early, wondering whether we can wake her, trying to make that call on whether seeing her open her presents now will be worth the tired grump later. Then the joy of watching her open her gifts, which seems to take forever. Then it's action stations, either visiting or getting ready for visitors, and making sure the Sky box is set up. In my single youth, I used to go out on Christmas night. It was invitation only to the local, and of course we were invited. Some years we even had tickets for a club! On Christmas night! Now all I can think about is the new pjs and book and lying on the couch!
 
Boxing Day is always a bit less structured, I think. It used to be good recuperating time, before the onslaught of the night, but now it’s family time and involves more visiting/ visitor activities, which are usually good, especially if Daughter and Niece can be together. But Boxing night used to be a really good night out. It was as though everyone had had their fill of family time and needed to let their hair down. Pub, club, or in my ballroom days, dancing, and it's another one I don't think was ever rubbish. ( don't think I've got a selective memory here, I do remember loads of the Christmas nights finishing with 'I should have stayed in' and every single New Year’s night being absolutely rubbish). Boxing night was usually finished off with a pick from Mother’s Boxing Night Buffet. (When I say a pick, I obviously mean heaving plateful) and then it was time to take a breather until New Year’s Eve.
 
So things are very different now from 15 years ago. I haven't bought any new shoes for my own feet. Yes, I did buy a dress for the girls night but it was an absolute steal....I don't know that I miss those days, but I do look back at them fondly. I certainly look back very fondly on being provided with a feast without lifting a finger or spending a penny! But at 6am (or whatever time we wake her, not able to wait a minute more) and our sleepy eyed girl will get it the middle of us to open her stocking, not sure whether she wants to go back to sleep or press on with the swag more, there will be no better time. One thing hasn't changed though. The first thing I will eat will be chocolate. It's Christmas, why not!
 
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

If life begins at 40, what happens at 39?


I’m 39 today.  39!  How can that be?  It’s so…mature sounding.  And altogether all too near to (whisper it) 40.  How can I be nearly 40?!  It’s so grown up, so responsible. 

I don’t remember setting myself any ‘by I’m 40’ goals, and isn’t that a good job with only 364 days to achieve them if I did.  I’ve only just got my head round a fake date of birth to give if I was asked my (under 18) age in the pub, and now I’ve got a year left to be in my thirties.

I was 13 when Mother turned 40, and it seemed like a terribly old age.  She didn’t seem terribly old, although I do remember giving some grief about all my friends having younger mums (I was the youngest and they were all the oldest), but it seemed like a ripe old age to me.  And here I am, one year away from it with a five year old, and not feeling any kind of ripe old age at all.

I suppose I shouldn’t declare my age publicly.  What if I want to pretend I‘m actually only 35?  Or better still, 25?  I think I’d be pushing it there!  But it’s just that 39 sounds like I should be so capable and experienced, and the truth is that at times I’m neither.  Although sometimes I think I’m the oldest old biddy there is.  I’ve been trying to come up with a list to see whether I’m 19 or 90 at heart…

My last clothes shop was in Primark

…but I’ve bought in BHS recently

I wear sparkly nail varnish

…but I moan about how difficult it is to take off

I listen to Radio Two

…every day

I took a neatly folded bag for life out with me on my sisterly Christmas shopping day

…but I did have two glasses of wine with lunch

I wore my first false eyelashes this week

…but had a ‘malfunction’ halfway through the night

I appear to be obsessed with reed room fragrancers

I bought a loose bottomed cake tin on a whim

I embarrassed Daughter by falling out of a sleigh (completely sober)

I bought a bottle of pink fizz to drink while I was getting ready to go out on my birthday night out

…it’s still in the fridge

I try and keep boxes, tins and various other containers ‘in case they come in handy’

…but Husband doesn’t let me

 

Oh my.  I’ve answered my own question.  I’ve the mind of a 90 year old trapped in a 39 year old body!

Right, you’ll have to excuse me.  I’m just nipping out to Our Price to buy the latest tunes and I might pop into Chelsea Girl for a new outfit.  What’s that you say..?!